The impending Reliance Jio launch in spurring the Indian telecom scene in all kinds of ways. Even as service providers across the board are trying to prevent a mass jump over of customers, given Reliance Jio plays the price card to success, smartphone manufacturers are hoping to use this as a trigger to get feature phone users to switch to smart devices.
Samsung Z2, an affordable Tizen OS based smartphone from Korean tech giant, is one such play. The opportunity is immense: 550 million feature phone users. Given this will be among the cheapest 4G phones in the market, there could be something there. The phone looks and has specifications similar to the Samsung Z1, the first Tizen smartphone launched a year back. And given the Reliance Jio factor this does seem a bit like old wine in a new bottle, especially when there is going to be a wine fest in town.
But I am not convinced that affordability will result in a lot of people sacrificing experience. Given that the feature phone user will jump over to 4G primarily because of access to cheap entertainment, I’m not convinced any four-inch smartphone will really be that successful. Many of these users might just wait for a cheaper 5-inch device or just buy one second hand. Let’s not forget that their priorities also lie with WhatsApp and Google Play which they aspire for with a shift to smartphones, and at least the entry range of Lyf does not offer this.
In fact, this Reliance Jio 4G smartphone is selling as low as Rs 2,990. But the buyers here are not first-time smartphone users, but those picking up a second or third device which they can use as a WiFI hotspot to benefit from the cheap data.
There will be some quarters of hockey stick growth in the budget smartphone space driven by affordable 4D data. However, that might have to wait till both large screen smartphones and 4G data hit a sweet spot in terms of affordability. We wait.